Black History Fun Fact Friday – Cane River Creole National Park – Oakland Plantation

On this day in 2016, I posted about a former slave plantation in Natchitoches, Louisiana I visited that weekend. I shared my experience on this blog, but I never made it a Black History Fun Fact. As the memory popped up in my Facebook archives, I decided to add it to the collection. Below is the original post for those of you who were not following me in 2016 and never saw this.


Originally Published on 11/28/2016

I took a week off to unplug and to spend time with my family. In addition to camping, we visited the Cane River Creole National Historical Park in Natchitoches, Louisiana.

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Reading and watching movies about slavery is one thing, but touring a former slave plantation is an entirely different experience. I didn’t get very emotional, but I will say for now that gratitude is my best way of describing it—appreciation for all the comforts I enjoy in my life that my ancestors paid for with their blood. As the sun lowered and we prepared to leave, I thought about what they would be doing at this time of the day. I thought about how they’d just be coming in from the fields to prepare for their nightly routines or, perhaps, still working.

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Originally called Bermuda, the founder of Oakland was Jean Pierre Emmanuel Prud’homme, who began farming the land in 1785 and received a Spanish land grant in 1789. The land’s first cash crops were tobacco, indigo, and cotton.

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The Prud’hommes were the first family west of the Mississippi River to farm cotton on a large scale.

The Overseer’s House

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Overseers were the middlemen of the Antebellum South’s plantation hierarchy. Sometimes they were white men working for the slave owner, and other times they were enslaved men hired to rule over their brothers. The “masters” expected overseers to maintain a workforce of slaves to produce a crop. The enslaved were the overseer’s responsibility. He was to keep them working by any means necessary. In return, he got to occupy his own cabin or possibly get a bit more food. The perception was that because his job was “better,” he himself was better off, but he was still an enslaved person.

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Close Up: Check Out this Old School Stove!

I also noticed the mud and straw still preserved from the original building of the house.

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Slave Quarters turned Home of Sharecroppers

After the Civil War, sharecropper and tenant farmers continued to live on the land up until the 1970s. They worked twelve hours a day, six days a week.

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Wash House

Martha Ann, an enslaved Laundress, worked in this wash house in the 1850s. In the 1940s, her descendant, Martha Helaire, earned $4 an hour working here as a Laundress. All we have to do is walk a few steps to the washer and dryer.

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Bemuda Store

Opened after The Civil War, sharecroppers and tenant farmers continued buying their supplies from family and farming from this store until 1983.

1983?!

The Prud’homme family owned and operated the store. They also ran the Post Office located inside.

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Carpenter Shop

Slaves built and repaired plantation structures from this workplace.

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Mule Barn

Smokehouse turned mule barn. Built by the enslaved, the plantation reused the smokehouse to accommodate the mules when the original mule barn burned down.

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Cane Syrup Pot

Used to make cane syrup.

On some plantations, they used these pots to punish the enslaved and to boil them alive (as depicted in the movie “Mandingo.” CLICK HERE to see the clip.)

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The Big House

This is the porch and perimeter of “The Big House.” We could tour everywhere except for this house. We were not allowed inside, and they did not give us a reason why.

It was overwhelming to look at the trees whose thick branches bowed low. Shading the big house, cooling it from the Louisiana sun, and sheltering it from the River breeze, these trees lined the walkway to the entrance of the gate and were planted in 1825.

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Strangers Room

I don’t know what a stranger’s room is (guest room?), but it’s a room in the big house. I tried to take pics of the inside from the window. It looks like the original furniture is still preserved.

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Carriage House

The carriage house dates to 1820. In its earlier years, the east bay was used as a horse stall. The overseer had the horse saddled each day and tied to the chain so that it was available for riding and checking the fields.

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Square Corn Crib and Cistern

The Corn Crib was built around 1821 of hand-hewn cypress logs and was used to store grain for the plantation. Rainwater was channeled from the crib roof into the cistern, which was 16 ft deep and held 4804 Gallons of water used for watering stock.

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Pigeoneer

There are several Pigeonnier’s on the land. The Prud’ Hommes harvested young pigeons for a delicacy called “Squab.”

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Chicken Coop

Husband checking out the Chicken Coop.

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Fattening Pen

Chickens were bred, hatched and fattened in this area. Turkeys were also raised on the land.

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Randoms

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What I carried home with me was an even deeper appreciation for those little things we take for granted every day. I was headed back to the campsite to sleep in a tent, but I knew that eventually, I’d be going home to a hot shower, a full meal, and a warm bed. As we packed up to leave the plantation, I considered what it would be like to be forced to stay. What is it like not to have a home to go back to and nothing more to look forward to tomorrow than the same back-breaking work?

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My revelations were not just in relation to dark history (I am aware black history is not just about slavery). As I looked around the land, I saw how the enslaved built almost everything on the property. It reminded me of how skillful and resourceful we are as a people. From shelters to clothing, food, and shoes, I thought how empowering it would be to get back to building our own.

Often deemed ignorant and illiterate, the truth is that Israelites, so-called Blacks, were not as naive as we are taught. It occurred to me that many blacks were only lost when it came to adapting and assimilating into American culture. Otherwise, we were expert farmers, inventors, midwives, carpenters, and chefs. Thus, I left not just in appreciation for the tangible things in my life, but for everything my people have endured and the knowledge they’ve passed down to me through the generations.


Being that I drafted this post when we got home so it can be ready for you today, I’m going to crawl into this bed and get ready to catch up. I’ll be scrolling your blogs to see what I missed. The grind continues.

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Click here to read more Black History Fun Fact Friday Articles!

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – Storm Wrack and Spindrift (Remnants Book 3) by Margaret Pinard

Title: Storm Wrack & Spindrift (Remnants Book 3)

Author: Margaret Pinard

Print Length: 259 Pages

Publisher: Taste Life Twice Publishing

Publication Date: December 2, 2019

 

About.

The MacLeans have suffered being thrown off their land, emigrating to the New World, surviving in the forest wilderness, and losing their father Gillan in a bizarre murder. Now, ten years later, the two youngest emigrants will split the family across an ocean.

Sheena pursues a future back in Scotland with her husband Gordon Lamont. Alisdair dreams of university and a chance to reform the political system in the colony that denied him justice for his father’s death.

But the British Empire of the 1830s has yet more obstacles to throw in their path. When the only school in the province only accepts Anglican students, what will Alisdair do? When Sheena finds herself in a role of authority over families like her own, how will she cope with the isolation?

And when both their hopes of peace and stability are dealt a telling blow, how will they stay true to their fighting spirit?

STORM WRACK & SPINDRIFT is a dramatic story of family survival and personal struggle set against social upheaval. While voter enfranchisement was advancing in London, and slavery finally outlawed in the Empire, the tiny stage of rebellion in a backwoods colony farm could still have deep repercussions. Every life is precious, every decision important–which is why the early struggle for Responsible Government and other civil liberties continues to encourage us today.

 

I enjoyed reading about the MacLean family, especially since the author did such an excellent job transporting readers to the era of the 1830s. The descriptions and dialect are authentic, and any lover of historical fiction would enjoy the natural flow of reading. I enjoyed the back and forth between Sheena’s experiences in Scotland and Alisdair’s challenges with the family on the farm. I sympathized with his conflict with wanting to study law but not wanting to leave the family who needed his help. The characters are undoubtedly the stars of this book. I love children, so I am fond of Mairi and her bond with Grannie. They are so sweet together, and even though Neil (Mairi’s dad) is sad, the author did an excellent job portraying his misery. Speaking of grief, prepare yourself. This book has its moments.

Suppose a Historical Fiction novel is going to be set during a time when slavery was alive and well. In that case, the author will do well to mention it in some capacity to make the story even more authentic (because of slavery’s worldwide influence). Thus, I love the mentioning of the Slavery Abolition Act that “abolished slavery in most British colonies, freeing more than 800,000 enslaved Africans in the Caribbean and South Africa as well as a small number in Canada. It received Royal Assent on August 28, 1833, and took effect on August 1, 1834.” (Latasha Henry, Slavery Abolition Act, 2020) The government compensated slave owners for the value lost from freeing enslaved people and Sheena was not having it:

“And is there any proposed fund for the slaves, since by abolishing slavery, we admit we had no right to own other people in the first place?”

“Well no—”

“No, of course not.”

I liked the detail about Rhoda, Sheena, and Gordan’s widowed housekeeper, taking part in abolitionist demonstrations and the mention of Wilberforce’s death. Passing in 1833, William Wilberforce was a “British politician, philanthropist, and leader of the movement to abolish slavery.” (Wikipedia) I liked how the author connected Wilberforce to the family on a personal level by adding the detail about Rhoda’s involvement with him and showing readers the impact his death had on her.

While I enjoyed this story, I do not think it can be read as a standalone novel as marketed. As the third book in the series, I felt a bit lost in the beginning because it felt like something was missing, i.e., everything leading up to the MacLean’s family’s life on the farm.

The epilogue is intriguing, and I wonder if the author would consider adding another book to the series, possibly centered on the experiences of Mairi.

 

Plot Movement / Strength: 3/5

Entertainment Factor: 3/5

Characterization: 5/5

Authenticity / Believable: 4/5

Thought Provoking: 3/5

Overall: 3/5

Storm Wrack & Spindrift (Remnants Book 3) is available now on Amazon!


My book review* registry is OPEN. To learn more about my registry be sure to visit the Blog Book Review Policy page here.

*Note that poetry books and non-fiction books will have a different rating system than fiction books.

“But My Family Don’t Support my Writing”

Popular Complaint: “My family don’t support my writing.”🤷🏾‍♀️

Umm. How can I put this, your family and friends will be the least supportive of your writing (as is the case for most businesses). That’s not a bad thing entirely because they are not really your targeted audience.

New Writer:  *Smacks lips, rolls eyes.* “Okay, so what that mean?” 🙄

It means you have to find those people who are most likely to read the kinds of books you write and often, they are not family members. This specific group of people is called a targeted audience. You are not targeting everyone but focusing on one specific kind of reader. Here’s an example from words from Tyler Perry:

“I clearly believe that I’m ignored in Hollywood for sure and that’s fine. I get it. My audience and the stories that I tell are African American stories specific to a certain audience, specific to a certain group of people that I know that I grew up with and we speak a language.” – Tyler Perry

Say what you want about Perry but he has a keen understanding of his Target Audience. That’s what he is speaking of here. A specific group of people who his films/movies/TV shows are specifically for. That’s why his movies are all along the same lines in the theme. We can see that Tyler Perry makes the same movies because he is targeting a specific audience.

Personally, I am not much of a Tyler Perry fan. There are only a few of his movies I like but that’s not the point.

We can agree or disagree with his movies, but he is an excellent example of someone with knowledge of his Target Market.

When you are targeting a specific group, you are not trying to reach everyone or garner everyone’s support. Your purpose is to appeal to that specific group.

(Feel like I’m saying “specific” a lot but that’s kinda important). 

How many people at Michelle Obama’s book signing were related to her?

New Writer: “What? But those was her fans tho.” 🧐

And you have fans too if you look beyond the praise of family members who will probably never buy.

New Writer: “So you saying my mama can’t buy my book?” 💁🏾‍♀️

Your mom will probably buy your book first, but she’s not the seventeen-year-old black boy with peer pressure issues you wrote it for is she?

New Writer: “I mean naw but…”🤨

…and she’s probably not gonna leave a book review on Amazon, follow you on Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, or subscribe to your email list and if she does, she probably won’t remember to read it.

New Writer: *smacks lips* “Dang why you gotta be all negative for?” 😒

Because the truth will set a lot of writers free from unrealistic expectations about what it means to be an author.

Loyal family/relatives may buy a book or two and they may be there to cheer you on, lift you, and support you in various ways. Families are good at heaping praises.

They love to like your posts, root you on and tell you repeatedly how they intend to buy your book and how proud they are of you. This is helpful from an encouraging point of view and it feeds the ego, but praise doesn’t sell books. How many of these people follow up? Every year the same family member asks, “where can I buy yo book?” But they never buy.

It is those non-relative readers who your book is specifically written for who will buy with consistency and read your every release, becoming avid readers and fans.

(…and I hate to use the word “fan,” by the way. *Shudders* Be a fanatic for no one.)

👉🏾How many of your genetic relatives have bought your book?

New Writer: “Lemme see, my mama got one, my cousin, boo boo nem, lil Chris…”

So what, all five of them..?

New Writer: “Oh, so you being funny?”🤔

No. I’m being real. Put it this way, would a company whose buyers don’t watch TV, make a commercial to push their product?

New Writer: “Naw that’s stupid.”🙄

🤷🏾‍♀️ So why would authors focus the bulk of their efforts on trying to sell to people who don’t read the books they write?

New Writer: “I guess I see what you saying.”😩

Now, take out some paper. You’re gonna have to write this down.

…wait, what are you doing? Put your phone down this is important. 🤦🏾‍♀️

New Writer: “Imma type it in my notepad.”

Okay but don’t be on Instagram this is important.

New Writer: I’m not dang. 🤳Go. I’m ready.”

Okay, here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help you find your readers. 

  • Who are my current readers/Who am I trying to reach? How old are they? What do they like? Where do they hang out?
  • What’s the #1 thing my readers love/need the most?
  • What problem does my book solve? What are my readers’ pains/issues/struggles/challenges?
  • What do readers gain from reading my book? What do I have to offer?
  • Who would benefit most from reading my book?
  • What makes my book unique?

My Responses to Common Complaints from New Writers is something new I am adding to this blog based on common writing and publishing questions from new Indie Writers. I thought it would be fun to answer them here in the form of dialogue. You will know the posts by the quotation marks around the complaint to differentiate it from other posts.

Did you like this first post? Do you have a common complaint I should address?

Find more articles under the Writing Tips and Resources page here.

Nourish Your Offline Relationships

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Would you know if your friend is feeling down if he/she didn’t post about it? Would you know when his/her birthday was if Facebook didn’t tell you? Would you have the information necessary to congratulate those you love on their achievements, like weddings, and graduations if they didn’t post about it?

How well do we know the people we call friends?

Yesterday was my husband’s birthday and birthdays always have me thinking about relationships and social media. A few years back I had deactivated my Facebook a few days before my birthday. I didn’t feel like being bothered with accolades from people who hadn’t spoken to me since my last birthday. An interesting thing happens when I do this: The people who know me most will call or text me. Then, at the conclusion of the day I’ll post something on social and out of the woods will come those who thought they knew me and yet didn’t know something as basic as the date of my birth.

I had one person I considered a sister call me three days after my thirtieth birthday. There’s no harm in this. I’m not that sensitive. People don’t have to stop their lives for me. Reach out when you can. What I found odd is not that she called three days later. What was odd is that she thought she had called on my actual birthday. I found this odd because I thought we were closer than that. I had known the woman over ten years. We had lived with one another at some point, interacted with one another’s children, dined together, laughed, and had deep conversations. This wasn’t just any sister, this was someone I thought knew me well. Well enough to know my birthday is not May 29th. It doesn’t surprise me that today, we are no longer in touch.

But don’t get distracted. This is not about birthdays.

This is about the work we put or do not put into relationships now that Social Media automates our lives. Now that there is “an app for that” some of us have become lazy in our interactions with one another.

I had the pleasure of visiting Griffin High School last weekend. I spoke to four classes of tenth and eleventh graders about writing, publishing, and my journey as an author. I love young people. I love their innocence and straightforwardness. I love their non-sugarcoating questions. Many of them asked me if I “made a lot of money,” and “how do I deal with criticism?” It swelled my heart to have the pleasure of being there with them. One student asked me if I thought the ebooks would overtake paperbacks. I told him that while digital has enhanced writing in many ways, I think the paperback is here to stay.

Digital books are convenient when I am eagerly expecting reading a book and I don’t want to wait for the paperback to come in the mail. It’s fast and quickly satisfying. Buying a paperback book costs more and takes patience but when it comes there is something immensely gratifying about holding the book in my hands and turning the pages. A feeling I do not get when I read digitally. When I can look in someone’s eyes and talk with them as I did last week, answer their questions, hear their concerns, sign their books organically, hug them and take pictures with them, nothing online can compare to that experience. That human experience.

Let’s say digital books represent social media and paperbacks represent real life. While it may be easier to wait for a notification to tell you that your loved ones are “feeling sad” it is much more productive to hear their voice on the other end of the phone or to give them an inspiring word through text. It is even more fruitful to see them face-to-face, to hear their voices, and look into their eyes. Some things you will never know about a person from their social media pages. If they are like me, quiet, reserved and private, you will only get the basics. Facebook may tell you when it’s my birthday or notify you when I am traveling or checking into a restaurant but for those personal, heartfelt thoughts? There’s no app for that.

Nourish your offline relationships. To nourish someone is to feed them deeply with something good for them. It means to give them something that will encourage them to live well. When you do this, you do not make assumptions about anything you see in the virtual reality. You are not easily offended because someone “didn’t tell you” they were traveling or gathering or graduating. You already know these things because you have built a real-life relationship with the people you love and that bond is stronger than any post, tag, or “Friendversary” that pops up in your Facebook memories.

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews: Birth Days by Carol Massey

Title: Birth Days: Stories of Women Who Turned Difficult Beginnings into Glorious Lives

Author: Carol Massey

Print Length: 157 pages

Publisher: Pure Heart Publishing

Publication Date: November 2019

Language: English

Reviewed By: Yecheilyah Ysrayl

 

Birth Days is just what its subtitle says, “the stories of women who turned difficult beginnings into glorious lives.” The author introduces us to several fictional women who endure heartbreaking struggles with birth and parenting. Dr. Francine Young gives her baby up for adoption, Lulu didn’t know she was pregnant until two months before giving birth, Margaret messed around with Jackson Jones (and he was not her husband), and Lulu’s grandson became the President of Howard University in 2027.

We are witnesses to the trials these women endured, the men they loved and the people who assisted them in their journeys. (Like Aunt Sis who acted as a Midwife and caregiver for Mary and Connie). Readers will be eager to see what happens next as each woman tackles her beast. We can consider the stories historical as many of them take place as far back as the thirty’s and forty’s and I enjoyed the pieces of history sprinkled throughout as it pertained to the differences of the lives of African Americans in the North as compared to the South. (Though, I wish the author had placed more emphasis on how racist the North was too. To her credit, there was mention of the racial subtleties of the North, but I still got the feeling that for the characters it represented the land of milk and honey.)

My favorite story is the first one, Two Sisters, with Connie and Mary, Aunt Sis and Aunt Ailene. I could see the mother’s grief at having such a difficult pregnancy and the fear that gripped the family at having lost a baby before, and their anxiousness over whether Mary would live. I felt the father’s heartache at building the baby coffin out of the fear she would die like the others. (And when the father renovated the house later in the story and came home with Clara it had a Color Purple feel to it). I was eager to see what would happen to the sisters in the long run. The author did a good job of keeping me wanting to read on. (I enjoyed Dr. Francine’s story too.)

I believe this book to be a five-star read. It’s not a long book and the stories of the women and their struggles with maternity fit well within today’s society where women, their efforts and lives are at the forefront. However, because of a few errors, I cannot rate this book the five stars I think some minor adjustments could help it become. Too much telling, no chapter headings and too many exclamation marks are among my concerns that impede the flow of the reading and, as a result, contribute to my final rating.

 

Ratings:

Plot Movement / Strength: 3/5

Entertainment Factor: 3/5

Characterization: 3/5

Authenticity / Believable: 3.5/5

Thought Provoking: 4/5

Overall: 3.5/5

Birth Days is available here.

“Birth Days is an engaging book filled with rich characters who faced many life struggles. It is a compilation of captivating narratives. Each heart-warming story surrounds a unique birth. Journey through these five memorable tales of love, lust, longing, loneliness and triumph. Despite the circumstances around each birth, each is an opportunity to create a beautiful life and to offer special gifts to the world. We come to know these characters and celebrate their triumphs!” – Pure Heart Publishing

About the Author:

After retiring from a 30+ year career in health and educational administration, Carol Massey had time to reflect on the people, places and events that influenced and inspired her. She wanted to pay homage to  some of the women who guided, nurtured and supported her journey from childhood through college, career and life as a single mother of an African American male child.  Carol, a California native, now lives in suburban Atlanta with her rescue pup, Ms. Frances.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carolmasseyauthor

You can now find this review under the Blog Book Review Page here.

90s Throwback Thursday Jams – Ginuwine, R.L., Tyrese, Case – The Best Man I Can Be

  • 🎵Part of the soundtrack to one of my favorite movies…ya’ll betta sing (these lyrics can apply to sisters too! “What can a sista do for me?” 🤷‍♀️) 🎵

Aborted Purpose

Photo by Alexis Chloe on Unsplash

 

I know too many women aborting their purpose

Manipulating our daughters so that their dreams are tied to two horses

And the black family unit is pulled apart in both directions

And our sons are Willie Lynching their seed

On Fallopian tubes

And walking away

They forgot what grew there

They forgot there are trees with their DNA

and we gave birth to boys who never became men

I know too many women aborting their purpose

We forgot the generations of women we carried in our ovaries

at conception

So we miscarried Eve’s redemption

now the hand me down fabric of expired womanhood

dangling over the degrees of our bedroom walls

we traded our integrity for dried ink on top cream colored paper

the folded crease and stained remembrance

of what we used to be

before the glass ceiling defined us

the faded glory of the black family unit

before we were Diva’s

and Bosses

back in the day when we were content

being Queens

we traded our crowns

in exchange to do bad all by ourselves

now the stress

and the guilt

of 70% of black women

whose descendants will stare down the barrel of a gun

cause she couldn’t admit

that it takes more than a black mother

to raise a black son